Over 2,500 local people sign petition for mental health out-of-hours services

By Maurice Garvey

A PETITION for out-of-hours mental health services in Cherry Orchard, has generated over 2,500 signatures.

The petition was started on July 31 by Cherry Orchard resident Lisa Palmer, a special needs assistant at St Dominic’s College, and has attracted huge support in a community rocked by a number of recent suicides.

New Cllr Doolan and Lisa Palmer 1 09102017

Initially, Lisa’s main focus was to hand the petition to Health Minister Simon Harris, but due to the campaign growing in stature, a joint petition with the Liberties will be delivered to City Hall in early November.

 “After many suicides in my area I started a petition for an out-of-hours mental health service to be made available to offer crisis intervention for those feeling suicidal,” said Lisa.

“After doing door to door, there are now over 2,500 signatures and many volunteers came on board to help. Whilst going door to door, people openly expressed their difficulties in the area. There was also a fear of the unknown regarding a lack of education and frustration around the topic of suicide.”

A number of residents offered to help Ms Palmer.

“A particular thank you to Linda Gaire, Marie Ritchie, Erin Abbie and Chloe Dempsey and my daughter Emma Palmer, who have helped consistently since I started the petition,” she said.

Lisa also thanked Sinn Féin councillor Daithí Doolan who accompanied her door to door with the petition, and People Before Profit TD Brid Smith and Cllr Hazel Norton who have supported the campaign.

After delivering a local presentation regarding residents’ concerns, Lisa was subsequently offered a seat on the D10 Be Well committee, by Christine Murray, Coordinator Ballyfermot Partnership.

In recent weeks, Senator Maire Devine facilitated a meeting between Lisa and Fran Dempsey, from the Liberties, who is also fighting for suicide supports in his area.

“We all met a couple of times and decided a march was needed to deliver a joint petition to the Minister,” said Lisa.

“David O’Donovan (Dublin City Council Cherry Orchard Project Manager) has kindly offered to let us use the Cherry Orchard Centre on November 4, to let residents personalise banners and flags for the march.”

“Anyone who would like their loved one’s photos printed in colour and laminated for the march, can message me and I will organise.”

Cllr Doolan, who passed a motion at last week’s area committee, calling for an out-of-hours mental health care service in Ballyfermot, said an out-of-hours mental health care services in Ballyfermot is “vital.”

“If you are unfortunate enough to have an accident on a Saturday night you can head to DubDoc or A&E. But sadly, if you have mental health issue there really are no services in place,” said Cllr Doolan.

“Over the summer in four months, four families had to bury their children because of suicide. Mental health has become a life or death issue here in Ballyfermot.”

The march will take place on Monday, November 6 at 5pm.

Free buses have been organised by the Liberties community, to drop Cherry Orchard residents to St Patrick’s Cathedral, where they will join the Liberties community and walk to City Hall. If you require support, contact Samaritans 24 hour Freephone helpline 116123, Pieta House LoCall helpline 1800 247 247, or Childline at 1800 66 66 66.

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